French racists target mosque


This French video shows footage about Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, and her contacts with Franz Schönhuber, German neo-nazi and ex-officer in Hitler’s SS.

From AFP news agency in France:

French mosque files complaint over pork pate in letterbox

Accompanied a threatening letter

Published: 18:13 April 18, 2014

Versailles, France: A mosque in the Paris suburbs said Friday it had filed a complaint with police after slices of pork pate and a threatening letter were stuffed into its letterbox.

Authorities at the mosque in Mantes-la-Ville, a town of 19,000 in the western suburbs of Paris, said the incidents reflected a “worrying climate” after the town last month elected a mayor from the far-right National Front.

The head of the association that runs the mosque, Abdul Aziz Al Jaouhari, said about a dozen mouldy slices of pork pate were discovered in the letter box on Wednesday.

The next day, an anonymous letter arrived calling Muslims “cockroaches” and wishing “good luck” to the new mayor “because he has a lot of work to do for a good cleansing, in particular of the Muslim race”.

“There is no question this was a racist and provocative act. It is the first time in the 12 years of the mosque’s existence that it has been the target of this kind of racist attack,” the association said in a statement.

It said it had filed a criminal complaint for “provoking racial hatred or religious discrimination” with police.

The association said the incidents were “especially worrying” given the “worsening social and political context” in the town after the election of FN [National Front] candidate Cyril Nauth in last month’s municipal elections.

Nauth won the town with 30 per cent of the vote, becoming the only elected mayor from the FN in the Ile-de-France region that encompasses the French capital and its suburbs.

USA: Outrageous Tea Party Bigot Allen West Attacks Muslim-Americans On Fox News (Video): here.

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Bahrain regime kills a human being again


Abdulaziz Al Abbar

From the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights:

Excessive Use of Force Leads to the Death of a Bahraini Citizen

Posted on April 18, 2014

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) express their grave concern regarding the news of the death of Mr. Abdulaziz Al Abbar (27 years old).

Mr. Al Abbar died today morning (April 18, 2014) in Salmaniya Hospital. He was wounded in the head (tear gas canister and bird-shot).

Mr. Al Abbar, injured in protests held in the Saar area – February 23, 2014 -, remained in critical condition for a 55 days.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) demands urgent and immediate investigation into the death of Mr. Abdulaziz Al Abbar.

See also here.

Bahrain: massive protests against the killing of two young men: here.

$580 million base expansion ties US closer to regime in Bahrain & their terrible human rights record: here.

During a trip to India in February, Bahrain’s King Hamad Al Khalifa visited Mahatma Gandhi’s shrine. The King praised Gandhi as someone “who believed in his cause, which he pursued until it was realised”. Gandhi’s cause, of course, was gaining independence for India against British colonial rule. Bahrain, too, gained independence from Britain in 1971, following a decades long struggle by its citizens. However, King Hamad has suggested that Bahrain’s ruling family were not so keen on independence. At a reception held in his honour last May, the King told assembled British dignitaries  that his father (the former ruler) had said at the time: “Why? No one asked you to go!” Following Bahrain’s nominal independence, popular uprisings began to occur roughly once a decade, seeking genuine democracy and the wresting of power away from the ruling family: here.

Political, rights, and civil society activists launched a campaign under the slogan “Kingdom of Demolished Mosques”. The campaign marks the 3rd anniversary of the demolition of 38 mosques in Bahrain, by the regime, during the state of emergency, between March and April 2011. The campaign was launched on the same day of the demolition of Al-Barbaghi Mosque which is more than 450 years old. The regime still insists on keeping it in ruins, and is attempting to relocate the historic mosque: here.

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Life imprisonment for Ugandan gay people?


This video from the USA says about itself:

Yup, She’s DEFENDING Uganda’s Anti-Gay Laws!

23 February 2014

“The right-wing women’s group Concerned Women for America (CWFA) expressed outrage on Sunday that President Barack Obama condemned a Ugandan anti-LGBT bill that would punish homosexual behavior with lifetime imprisonment.

According to the Joe My God blog, CWFA spokesperson Janice Shaw Crouse said that the president’s “arrogance is breathtaking” for saying that [the] Ugandan government should stop imprisoning and torturing men it suspects of being gay.

On Sunday, Obama released an official White House statement condemning Uganda’s proposed law outlawing same sex marriages and imposing lifetime prison sentences for repeated homosexual acts.”

Read more here.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Ugandan men to go on trial on homosexuality charges

Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa face life imprisonment if found guilty in first such case since introduction of new anti-gay law

Barbara Among in Kampala

Thursday 17 April 2014 16.37 BST

Two Ugandan men will go on trial next month accused of homosexuality, the first people to be charged since a controversial new anti-gay law was passed.

Prosecutors said on Wednesday that they had sufficient evidence against Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, who denied the charges when they first appeared in court earlier this year. They have been held in Luziro prison in Kampala since December.

Mukisa, 24, a businessman, was charged with “having sexual knowledge of a person against the order of nature” and Mukasa, 19, with permitting a person to have sexual knowledge of him against the order of nature.

They are the first Ugandans to face trial on homosexuality charges, with an earlier case collapsing before it reached court and the majority of those arrested paying stiff fines to avoid prison.

Uganda‘s president Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-gay law in February. It punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail and allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality”.

Since the law was passed several donors have cut aid to Uganda, while others have diverted development support to projects that promote human rights.

Mukisa and Mukasa, however, have been charged under the 1950 Penal Code Act, which also prescribes life imprisonment if a person is found guilty of homosexual acts.

They are expected to defend themselves during the trial, which is scheduled to start on 7 May.

Britain: KFC ‘sorry’ after lesbian couple are kicked out of Bath restaurant for ‘heavy petting’: here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says the Anglican Church cannot support same-sex marriage: here.

USA: Mayor who fired lesbian police chief caught on tape in homophobic tirade: here.

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Okinawa musicians against United States military base


This video is called Lucy Nagamine: Okinawa‘s folk music heritage.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Okinawa‘s musicians provide a focus for Japanese protest against US bases

With Barack Obama visiting Japan in April, resentment at plans for the US Futenma military base is finding a musical voice

Justin McCurry in Okinawa

Thursday 17 April 2014 15.50 BST

If an island of 1.4m people can be summed up in a sound, it is that of the sanshin. Where there are people on Okinawa, a Japanese island almost 1,000 miles south of Tokyo, the distinctive tones of the three-stringed instrument are never far away.

Music is deeply rooted in Okinawa’s tragic place in Japan‘s history and the conduit for its modern grievances against the glut of US military bases on the island. As Barack Obama prepares to visit Tokyo to meet Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, later in April, the anti-war message of sanshin players such as Shoukichi Kina and Misako Oshiro is back in vogue as the subtropical island confronts its biggest political challenge since it reverted from US to Japanese rule in the 1970s.

In his mid-60s, Kina cuts a controversial figure as spiritual leader of Okinawa’s activist musicians. Since the release of their first single Haisai Ojisan (Hey, Man!) in the 1970s, Kina and his band Champloose have done more than any other artists to secure Okinawan music against competition from mass-market Japanese J-pop and the more innocent musical motifs of the mainland folk genres minyo and enka.

“Our job as musicians should be to celebrate the good and do something about fixing the bad,” said Kina, who some have called Okinawa’s answer to Bob Marley. “That’s why I hate the military bases here, but I love Americans.”

Though it accounts for less than 1% of Japan’s total area, Okinawa is now home to about 75% of US bases in Japan and half its 50,000 troops. Military facilities take up a fifth of the island. Obama and Abe are expected to discuss the controversial relocation of Futenma, a sprawling US marine base, from a heavily populated part of Okinawa to an unspoiled location on the island’s northeast coast, as the allies attempt to lessen the island’s military burden. The move is opposed by most islanders, including the residents of Nago, whose city lies near the proposed site for the new base.

The spirit of resistance pioneered by Kina is to be found in the more eclectic music of Tatsumi Chibana, a quietly spoken 33-year-old university graduate and perhaps the most visible of Okinawa’s new generation of rebel artists, fusing traditional sounds with rock, reggae and hip-hop.

After a US military helicopter from the Futenma US marine base crashed into Okinawa International University in 2004, Chibana was moved to write his best-known song, Tami no Domino (People’s Domino), a collaboration between his band Duty Free Shopp and local rapper Kakumakushaka.

The incendiary lyrics reflect the feeling of many residents towards the ever-present threat to safety posed by the island’s 27,000 US troops and their hardware: “Surrounded by weapons in the land of disorder; what the hell can you tell me about peace in a place like this?”

Most of Chibana’s music eschews the sanshin and other traditional instruments, but his background looms large, he said. “I’m always aware of my Okinawan identity when I make music. OK, so I wasn’t brought up listening to folk songs, but the spirit of that old music is in mine. It doesn’t matter whether I play reggae, hip-hop or rock, it’s still Okinawan music.” …

Like Kina, Chibana occasionally sings in the Okinawan language Uchinaguchi – an artistic choice that renders his lyrics unintelligible to many Japanese, but which exemplifies the island’s historical and emotional sense of detachment from the mainland.

In the 16th century, where the sanshin’s origins lie, Okinawa was part of the Ryukyu kingdom, which, while politically independent, had tributary relations with Ming dynasty China. Forced annexation by Japan came in the late 1800s, followed in the 1940s by the carnage of the Pacific war.

Less than a century after it was forcibly made part of Japan, Okinawa was the scene of one of the second world war’s bloodiest battles. An estimated 240,000 Japanese and Americans died, including more than a quarter of Okinawa’s civilian population, after US forces invaded in June 1945. Japanese troops distributed grenades to civilians, urging them to commit suicide or risk being raped and murdered by American soldiers.

“There are lots of songs about how terribly the Okinawans were treated in the war,” said John Potter, the author of the only English-language book on Okinawan music and a prolific blogger on the subject.

Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972 – almost three decades after the war – fuelled the local sense of “otherness” from the mainland.

Not all Okinawan musicians draw inspiration from the island’s bloody past, Potter said. “Many songs come back to what a fantastic place Okinawa is. Lots of artists sing about their culture and being island people, and their pride in being different.”

Poverty – Okinawa is Japan’s poorest prefecture – and the looming clouds of conflict sent many people in search of new lives overseas, creating a diaspora whose youngest members are making their presence felt on the island’s contemporary music scene.

Lucy Nagamine, a Peruvian-born singer whose grandparents left Okinawa shortly before the war, learned classical Ryukyu music from her grandmother and picked up her deceased grandfather’s sanshin at the age of 10.

Before settling in her ancestral homeland several years ago, Lucy often sang for Okinawan immigrants in Peru who were desperate to preserve the emotional ties with home. “Now I’m here in Okinawa, away from the country of my birth, I know how my grandparents and other immigrants felt,” she said in between songs at her regular venue, a restaurant in Naha.

“In those days immigrants had nothing to do except sing and play the sanshin. It was a central part of their existence, and why music and the Okinawan lifestyle are closely intertwined, even today.”

Less polemic are Nenes, a group of four whose lineup has gone through several reincarnations since they were formed by the legendary artist and producer Sadao China in 1990. Nenes perform classic Okinawan songs for groups of tourists from the mainland.

One rare departure from their otherwise “safe” repertoire is their stirring version of Keisuke Kuwata’s Heiwa no Kyuka, which simmers with resentment over Okinawa’s bloody wartime sacrifice. “Who decided this country was at peace,” the song asks, “Even before the people’s tears have dried?”

“Now that we’re confronting the base issue again, this is a good time to sing about peace,” said 24-year-old Mayuko Higa. “It’s important that the people who come to see us perform know why it’s an important subject here.”

Nenes’ tourist-friendly melodies can seem a world away from Kina’s ceaseless quest for social and political change, an artist who implores the world’s armies to swap their weapons for musical instruments. His decade-old feud with NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, proves that Japan’s mainstream media and firebrand politics can be uncomfortable bedfellows.

“They demanded that I drop any references to peace from my performance,” Kina said, his arms in motion again as he recalls his incredulity. “I refused, of course, and they haven’t invited me back since. The message for Okinawan musicians has always been that if you want to get on in this industry, then keep your mouth shut. But I’ll say what I like.”

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